Monday Mornings with Madison

Humility: The Trait that Costs Nothing but Delivers a Huge ROI

Word Count:  1,477 

Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

In today’s PR-driven, social-media crazed, self-promoting world, humility is a quality that has lost its appeal.  While everyone is busy yelling “Look at me!  Listen to me!” with their selfies, posts, videos and TED talks, the humble are not boastful.  They adopt a modest posture that refuses to draw attention for themselves.  Humility is self-effacing, and unpretentious.  The humble person will not think or act as if he is better than anyone else, and won’t try to impress others by appearing or seeming to have greater importance, talent or culture than he actually has.  The humble person might come across as shy, even if he is actually outgoing and confident.  According to Meriam-Webster dictionary, humility is “a freedom from pride or arrogance.”[1] Vocabulary.com says it is the “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.”[2] In fact, humility comes from the root word humilis, which means low in Latin. Continue reading

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Fail Big in 2018

Word Count:  1,315

Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

As this fiscal year rolls to a close, business people will invariably begin tallying their professional wins and losses of 2017.  Corporate execs at every level will crunch numbers and calculate bottom lines.  Managers will look at what they did well and what they did poorly.   In taking stock, they will invariably start preparing for the year ahead.  Goals will be set.  Business, marketing and sales plans will be drafted.  Resolutions will be made.  That’s all fine. Continue reading

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The Battle between Speed and Quality

Word Count:  1,847 

Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

In the business world, there is a constant tug-of-war between doing something ‘right’ and doing it fast.  The pressure of profitability is forever pushing companies to get things done fast, and then faster still.  Managers submit requests and the due date is “yesterday.”  The more quickly a job is performed or a task is completed, the more it is praised by management and investors.  Employees are urged to pick up the pace.  An entire engineering discipline – ergonomics – was developed to focus on improving efficiency by saving time through small adjustments in motion.  Sayings abound about not wasting time.  Time waits for no man.  Wasted time is a wasted life.  Don’t waste time or time will waste you. Continue reading

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The New LinkedIn: A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Word Count:  1,917 

Estimated Read Time: 8 min.

When LinkedIn launched, it was a social media site that encouraged people in the work world to connect with other known professionals for networking and career development.   People were categorized as either (1st) which were direct connections, (2nd) which is someone who knows someone you know or (3rd) someone who knows someone that knows someone you know.   They tracked up to three degrees of separation between people.  In the early days of LI, someone with over 500 connections was considered to be a mover-and-shaker.  The site discouraged linking to people outside those known at work, school or social circles.  In turn, people were hesitant to link with people they didn’t know for fear that the site would be abused by salespeople and scammers. Continue reading

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The Smallest Gestures Can Have the Biggest Impact

Word Count:  1,477

Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Companies today compete furiously for market share.  We see brick-and-mortar retailers fighting for every sale and struggling to survive.  The Street announced that “Ailing department store operator Sears Holdings Inc. will shut down 63 more Sears and Kmart stores, the latest step as it hobbles to a likely bankruptcy.”[1] Restaurants are slogging it out with special offers, gimmicks and unique approaches that will attain and retain patrons.  The New York Times recently reported that “There are now more than 620,000 eating and drinking places in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of restaurants is growing at about twice the rate of the population.”[2] Competition is tough, and marketing research shows that businesses in most industries are spending increasingly larger budgets to reach potential customers and woo existing customers.  Clutch, a Washington, D.C.-based ratings and review firm, conducted a 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey of 350 small business owners and managers (500 employees or less) in which 49% of entrepreneurs said they plan to spend more on digital marketing to boost sales and brand recognition this year over last year and 36% said they aim to boost their marketing budget by 11% to 30%.[3] They are doing it all.  PPC campaigns.  Social media ads.  Retargeting efforts.  Network commercials.  Seminars.  Webinars.  Video infomercials.  Presentations.  Mobile automated notifications.  Text ads.  The efforts are increasingly sophisticated and expensive.  You name it.  Businesses are doing it.  Creating it…. deploying it…. and measuring the effectiveness of it.  That’s a lot of time and money spent to cut through the noise and grab the audience’s attention with the hopes of driving sales and increasing repeat business. Continue reading

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Creating Great Digital Presentations Today

Word Count:  1,769 

Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

Auyush Jain of Microsoft once said that “A single 10-minute presentation has the power to convert an idea into reality.”  That is perhaps why most companies that sell a product or service (something that is not a commodity) will use a “presentation” to explain their product or service to prospective customers.  This is especially true for high ticket items, complex services and B2B sales.  A typical presentation explains the product/service benefits and features as well as the company’s story and expertise.  In the “old days”, before computers and software applications, salespeople would work with marketing to create the presentation on either boards or in a flip book or binder.  In 1990, Microsoft revolutionized presentations with the launch of Powerpoint (which was invented in 1987 under a different name by a different company).  Suddenly, anyone with basic technical skills could use software found on most desktops to create a digital presentation.  Slides replaced boards and sheets.  A presentation could be emailed to anyone, anywhere, at a moment’s notice.  The use of presentations grew.  They were no longer just used for sales pitches.  Today, presentations are used for operational training, educational seminars, HR onboarding, and more. Continue reading

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Professional Correctness is the New PC

Word Count:  1,406

Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Recently, CBS fired a legal executive in their organization over comments she posted on Facebook after the tragic incident in Las Vegas.  The executive, who is an attorney and was Vice President and Senior Counsel in Strategic Transactions at CBS, posted her comment just hours after the tragedy.   Without reposting what she said or opening the can of political worms related to her comment, suffice it to say that what she wrote was deemed by many to be emotionally-charged, callous and politically-volatile, and – of course — it quickly spread on social media and through online news outlets.  Shortly thereafter, the executive was fired from her job.  She had been employed by CBS for about a year.  A CBS spokesperson said that “Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS.” Continue reading

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Helping Underperforming but Unwitting Employees Improve Skills

Word Count:  1,309 

Estimated Read Time: 5 min.

A study of high-tech firms found that 32-42% of their software engineers rated their skills as being in the top 5% of their companies.  This is mathematically impossible.  A study at the University of Nebraska found that 68% of the faculty rated themselves in the top 25% for teaching ability, and over 90% rated themselves as above average, which is another mathematical impossibility.   A study of medical technicians found that they consistently overestimate their knowledge of real-world lab procedures.  This problem is not restricted to just employees.  Studies also found this phenomenon in college students.  Students in the bottom quartile of a number of tests on grammar, logic and humor grossly overestimated their ability.  Those who tested in the bottom 10% for grammar actually thought they were in the top 33%.  That’s a huge gap between perception and reality.  And given that a study of over 30,000 employees found that fewer than half said they didn’t know if they were doing a good job while most managers believed their own performance was above par, then this phenomenon seems to also apply to those in management and leadership whose job it is to assess and communicate employee performance. Continue reading

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Making Time to Sharpen the Saw

Word Count:  1,399

Estimated Read Time: 5 ½  min.

Most people are familiar with the late Stephen Covey’s famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.   First published in 1988, the business / self-help book offered an approach to being more effective in achieving goals by aligning oneself to what Covey referenced as the “true north” principles.  He saw those seven principles as universal and timeless.  Later he added an eighth principle.  By far his best-known book, Covey’s Seven Habits have sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. The audio version became the first non-fiction audio-book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies and has now sold over 1 ½ million audio copies to date.  More recently, Covey’s son wrote and published a simplified version of the book titled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.  The Seven Habits philosophy lives on with Millennials and iGens. Continue reading

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Making Content Contagious

Word Count:  1,520 

Estimated Read Time: 6  min.

In the medical world, a virus is an infective agent that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell.   A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and replicate.  Most viruses are harmful.  In the digital world, a virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect.   But in the marketing world, when a piece of content such as a video, image or ad goes ‘viral’ – circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another – that is cause for celebration.  It is the most desired, but also most elusive, outcome for any marketing effort. Continue reading

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